Time to Start Planning for Growth - Step One: Analysis
Senior Consultant, CSSP, Inc.
As we get further into 2010, the time has come to start planning for the uptick in the economy. No, it likely will not be a "V" shaped recovery. And, if the government and the Federal Reserve get it wrong, we could have a "W" shaped double dip rather than a recovery. But, sooner or later, the economy will recover, and you would do well to plan for it and to be ready when the indicators turn positive essentially across the board.
So, what is involved in this planning for the recovery? To be ready, there are a number of areas you should check out and be ready for. First: will your customers after the recovery begins be the same customers you were selling before and during the recession? Have you serviced them well enough that they will continue to want to do business with you? Do you have the relationships deeply enough established that you will continue to enjoy their business in the future?
Second: What will you be selling in the future, as compared with what you sold prior to the slowdown, and with what you actually were selling during the slow period we are just beginning to emerge from now?
Third: What do you want to sell going forward? Are there any lessons you have learned about your business, your products and services, that can translate forward into more business, more profits and better products and services for your customers, present and future? What did you do well for your customers during the slowdown, and what did you learn about yourself, your products and services, and your customers that will make your future better and more profitable?
Fourth: Why were you able to sustain your business during the recession? What was it that your customers valued that kept your business viable? What did you stop doing during the recession that impacted your bottom line, either positively or negatively? What did you learn from the changes you made in order to get through the tough times? How can these lessons be applied toward ensuring success as business improves?
We have posed a lot of questions above, and getting the answers will involve considerable effort and introspection. The challenges of the future must be analyzed objectively and systematically in order to learn from the events so we may prosper as the economic activity improves. At the same time, we must be objective about making changes to support increased activities, so we do not lag behind the curve and miss opportunities, and so we don't leap too far, burdening our companies with increased costs and commitments.
This is where a formal, well-structured, objective strategic planning process comes into play. In order to be properly prepared, with milestones for making changes, and contingency plans for various scenarios, a thorough planning process is key to steering toward success. Without an objective analysis of the past, along with a realistic set of goals, objectives and strategies to follow for the future, you may not be able to take advantage of the opportunities which will come along as the economic atmosphere improves. Planning is essential for success, and this planning should likely start soon so you are prepared when the tide changes.
Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant at the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached at .